Advice for new pastors

We are now coming to the end of not only the church year, but the three year cycle.  This is the perfect time to give the historic lectionary a try.

When I was first ordained, I switched my congregation to the one year lectionary.  I did the same when I moved to Wyoming.  There are few changes you can make that will have as big an impact, while being so entirely unnoticeable.  Oh, the impact will not be on your people.  It will be on you and your ability to preach.  Reasons that the one year lectionary makes you a better preacher include :

After two or three years, you either have to really start studying the text, or just recycling sermons.  The one year lectionary forces you to go deeper. With the three year, you see the reading so seldom, you never actually need to get that familiar with it.

When you do get stuck (and if you haven’t yet, young preacher, you will)  if you use the three year lectionary, you can turn to Conc0rdia Pulpit Resources.   That’s basically it.  Any other resources are for other lectionary systems and so are hit and miss.  Why is CPR not the ideal “go-to” materials?  Name a great preacher – one of the all time greats.  Is he alive today?  Then he isn’t writing for CPR, is he.

The one year lectionary allows you to study sermons every Sunday by the greatest preacher of the theology contained in the Augsburg Confession ever in the church : Luther.  Actually, you can study at least two, and often more.  (Buy the house and church postils – the greatest investment in your preaching you will ever make.)

Nothing will improve your preaching and make it more practical as quickly as studying Luther’s sermons will.  They are perhaps the most down-to-earth sermons you will ever read.  The soaring rhetoric of a Chrysostom is not there.  The lyric beauty of Augustine is missing.  What you get is practical sermons that actually apply to your people better than anything you have preached so far.  Learn from this man.

If, after three years of preaching on the assigned Gospel, you are bored or don’t think it is working, go back to the three year.  But I think you will find, like I have, that the one year is so tightly constructed, so well put together, that you can not imagine how you ever got along without it.

Incidentally, some of the finest preachers that are alive today do use it, and you can find their own resources for free on line.  (No I don’t mean me.)

Take the plunge.  Give up on the V2LE. (Vatican 2 :  Lutheran Edition.) Go back to the only lectionary that claim true ecumenicity.  It’s worth it.

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